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Initial Hurwitz Prosecutor Resigns from DOJ #2 Post

good riddance to Paul McNulty!!!!! One of the big news stories today was the resignation of Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty as part of the US Attorneys firings scandal. I commented on the possibility of a McNulty firing on March 20th here in the Speakeasy, pointing out his history as the prosecutor who initiated charges against pain physician Dr. William Hurwitz, got the DEA's pain FAQ pulled to influence the trial, as well as his role in getting parole abolished in the state of Virginia. McNulty was present last month when the new Hurwitz verdicts -- more limited than the original, though still negative -- were read. Good riddance to Paul McNulty. May this mark an end to his evil works once and for all.
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U.S. Attorneys firings "scandal"

If you think that the firing of eight U.S. Attorneys was a scandal, I want to know what you think about Bill Clinton firing all 93 U.S. Attorneys, including one in Arkansas who was investigating corruption during Clinton's own tenure there as governor.

The fact that the President has the legal authority to remove these officials without giving a reason should be evidence enough that there is no "scandal" here. It is very hard to start a scandal without doing something illegal.

borden's picture

this post is about McNulty

I'll have to let others who are more expert on this topic respond and enumerate what the differences may have been between the current episode and the Clinton appointments at the beginning of his first term. However, McNulty was caught lying to Congress about it, and that is a scandal in and of itself, whether or not the initial issue itself qualifies as a scandal. So I stand by my characterization of McNulty as dishonest and untrustworthy and a bad apple whose career deserves to be consigned permanently and immediately to history's dustbin.

David Borden, Executive Director the Drug Reform Coordination Network
Washington, DC

On McNulty "lying" to Congress

According to a report from United Press International, published May 14, Sen. Chuck Schumer, a member of the Senate committee before which McNulty testified, said, "It seems ironic that Paul McNulty who at least tried to level with the committee goes while Gonzales who stonewalled the committee is still in charge." Here is the full statement, published by The Washington Times:

NPR reported, "McNulty was the first to admit to Congress that one of the fired U.S. attorneys, Bud Cummins of Arkansas, was dismissed so that a man who used to work for White House political adviser Karl Rove could take the job. Prior to that testimony, the attorney general had insisted that all of the prosecutors were fired for performance-related reasons." The rest is here:

The problem with the Justice Department's handling of this affair was not the firings, unless we want to go back and blow the whistle on all political appointments Presidents have ever made. We all know that many ambassadors and other officials are appointed based on their role in supporting the President's late campaign efforts.

The real problem with the Justice Department's actions is that it did not immediately and unashamedly identify this one firing out of eight or nine for what it was: a politically motivated decision. Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty should be commended for his honesty. If you are claiming that "McNulty was caught lying to Congress about it", it behooves you to be specific about what he said that was untrue.

borden's picture

it's out there on the net

There are blogs like Talking Points Memo that have gone into this in detail, so those who are interested in this topic can go there, do a Google News search, etc. Each gets to decide for himself or herself whether the TPM reporting and analysis are correct. I personally found it persuasive, but that is my individual impression, not a position of the organization.

Schumer has not been a good friend to our issue here, drug law reform, and his views about Paul McNulty are not highly persuasive to me.

David Borden, Executive Director the Drug Reform Coordination Network
Washington, DC

re: it's out there on the net

But if you had read reliable information and had duly thought the subject through, you would be able to give an example of something that McNulty said that was dishonest. Anybody can post anything on a blog.

There are also plenty of blogs out there that will support McNulty's integrity. However, it would not make sense to vaguely refer to them to support my opinion that he did nothing wrong--and then remain convinced that my opinion is true without being able to supply any specific evidence to support it.

Your reason for not being convinced by Schumer is that "Schumer has not been a good friend to our issue here, drug law reform". This does not make sense.

borden's picture

post the sources you like if you're concerned about it

I'm not at liberty on this single-issue web site to engage in a critique of Paul McNulty's conduct outside of the drug issue. Readers can refer to the extensive coverage and analysis on Talking Points memo and make up their own minds, but I personally think the evidence is pretty strong. Feel free to post whatever sources you feel support McNulty here as well. I'm an single-issue guy (but who also reads and watches the news).

Schumer has on more than one occasion supported policies that are dramatically contraindicated by the evidence and that cause a lot of harm, for reasons that don't make sense. For example, Afghanistan experts are pretty much in consensus that opium eradication programs are counterproductive, merely moviong the opium around rather than reducing the crop -- it is the mainstay of the Afghan economy and they're simply not going to stop growing it -- while driving farmers away from the government and into the hands of the Taliban, thereby undermining our national security interests and helping our enemies. I asked Peter Bergen (CNN terrorism analyst) about this myself at a forum, and he was completely clear about all of the above, and he had alternatives to recommend that unlike eradication actually make sense.

Schumer has played a principle in promoting and funding the eradication programs, and I view that as reflecting either incredibly poor understanding of this critical issue, or as political posturing in a way that harms Afghans and ultimately Americans. It's such an indefensible position that for me it really reduces his credibility. I really see him as a political animal and not someone I look to for truth. Maybe he meant what he said about McNulty -- maybe they are friendly and he likes the guy, I'm not saying Schumer was doing anything wrong in defending him -- but Schumer's words just don't hold a lot of currency for me. He is no Pat Leahy.

David Borden, Executive Director the Drug Reform Coordination Network
Washington, DC

Hold on a second

I'm not concerned right now with sources that agree with me. I haven't read any blogs supporting McNulty, or opposing him. I have, however, been following this matter in the news.

I agree that Schumer is an awful Senator, and I'm also leaning more and more towards legalizing drug use. However, Schumer's poor choices don't mean he's lying, or even mistaken, in this case. Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon were big liars, but even when we're dealing with them we can't assume that every word out of their mouths was untrue.

For all of your discussion about how imprudent Schumer's policies are and how bad his credibility therefore is, you still haven't bothered to prove him wrong in his statement about McNulty. And if you're not at liberty to "engage in a critique of Paul McNulty's conduct outside of the drug issue", I'm wondering why you dipped into this topic earlier today. You said, "However, McNulty was caught lying to Congress about it [the firings of the eight U.S. Attorneys], and that is a scandal in and of itself, whether or not the initial issue itself qualifies as a scandal. So I stand by my characterization of McNulty as dishonest and untrustworthy and a bad apple whose career deserves to be consigned permanently and immediately to history's dustbin."

If you can't discuss this issue, then why did you do so earlier; and if you can discuss it, how can you characterize McNulty in this way when you are unable to come up with an untruthful statement of his concerning the firings?

borden's picture

because you asked me, that's why...

Glad you are leaning toward legalization. :)

The issue I referred to as a scandal is an issue that has led to the resignation of the #2 person at DOJ and to myriad calls from senators of both major parties for the resignation of the US Attorney General. Even if all the premises turned out to be incorrect, it would still probably qualify as a scandal by the definition of the word. My perspective in referring to it as a scandal is informed by the fact that that the US Attorney General is being asked to resign by senators from both parties and that his #2 person has resigned. I think that is a fairly adequate basis for the use of the word!

I have pointed to one of most widely-read political blogs in the country as a source for information. The blog has a left-leaning ideological perspective, but that is no secret. I have suggested that readers interested in this can go there and judge for themselves whether McNulty contradicted himself or not and whether the blog is credible or not.

I have acknowledged that I am not an expert on the USA firings scandal. I posted a few comments on this because you challenged my use of the word "scandal" and asked me for a response. For the reasons stated above, I stand by my use of the word "scandal." I don't concede having further intellectual obligation on this beyond pointing readers to further sources of information so they can judge for themselves, and suggesting you or others also point to sources of information so they can judge for themselves.

Regarding Sen. Schumer, I think it is perfectly reasonable for me to say that because of things he has said and done in the past, I take his opinions on other things with a grain or two of salt now. I don't trust his opinions on criminal justice policy, therefore I also am disinclined to trust his opinions about individual criminal justice professionals as well. That doesn't prove that he's wrong about McNulty, but I think it's a reasonable barometer for me to use and therefore for me to find Schumer's support for McNulty unpersuasive. Readers here can individually decide for themselves whether they think my reasons for finding Schumer not so credible are good reasons or not.

I don't doubt that most USAs hired at a time like this will be fairly bad by our perspective here, regardless of the party holding power. The problem literally reaches all the way to the initial hiring of prosecutors straight out of law school. Basically the people doing the hiring act like real jerks, in order to discourage applicants who aren't jerks themselves. I'm not saying all prosecutors are like that -- I certainly know of some who don't fit this description, including some I downright like -- but this is more or less what is happening.

David Borden, Executive Director the Drug Reform Coordination Network
Washington, DC

I give up

Well yes, in the sense that there's a big brouhaha about this, this is a scandal. But what I'm saying is it shouldn't be even a major news item.

I give up--I'm just trying to see if you can put out there something that McNulty said to the Senate committee that was a lie. If you can and you want to show me, you can email it to me at [email protected]. Well, have a nice day and good luck with your drug legalization campaign.

May he suffer!

May he contract a painful medical disorder and suffer agonizing pain as the result of his own amorality and 'win at all costs' judicial philosophy! And may he and all like him burn in hell after their evil pathetic lives are over!

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